We’re constantly worried about our careers — Handshake, networking, info sessions, apply, wait, rinse, repeat. Honestly, I’m tired of it, especially after a couple of torturously long info sessions this past week, but the career machine never stops. And so, in the latest installment of career related madness, I decided to attend Cornell’s Fall Career Fair Day along with a few friends. This year’s career fair was held at Barton Hall, which proved to be a good and bad decision. Good, because the sprawling mess of career fair booths left just enough room for students to squeeze into lines to greet the recruiters.
If you ever want to see Cornell’s version of C-Span, just pop into the weekly student assembly meeting at Willard Straight Hall and observe some brash politicking. It is open to the public, and while it is not something I would recommend for a first date, it is the place to be if you care about the path Cornell is going to take in the coming months. The funny thing about student politics is that the students who sit on the assembly are still developing their political identities, and in turn their principles. As a result, we witness ideas that are more fully formed than their creators. This often leads to spouts of well intentioned dialogue that can backfire with a dramatic thud.
It’s why teens and twenty-somethings, each carrying a binder and their resumes, dressed in business attire, waddle around a room in Statler Hotel for a networking session hosted by the Royal Bank of Canada. And because I’m a business major and I have one more column due for The Sun, I decide to pull double duty and join in on the fun.
The unspoken assumption about Dyson is that a significant portion of the students want a career in finance. And not just a career in finance — on Wall Street, too. Banks! Big, bloody banks. There isn’t anything more intriguing and sexy than working on Wall Street for most students here. The most popular concentration is finance. The most popular clubs are financing and investment. The panels where banks come to meet students at Cornell are easily the most attended. I went to an entrepreneurship panel today — seven people showed up.
“I think it’s important to realize how much the world has changed.”
It’s the kind of phrase that sounds bold at first, but blander the second time. But context matters. The world has changed — a backlash from nationalist populists against the unpleasant backwash of globalism has grabbed headlines by the throat. This past year, we’ve seen Britain exit the European Union, a rejection of refugees from multiple countries and resurgence of the far right in countries such as France and the Netherlands. At the epicenter, of course,was Donald Trump, the tweet-mugging, bombastic, always entertaining leader of the free world.
The lights are stripped back from the curtain, so the canvas is blank now — an empty, billowing mass of cloth that hangs behind the model runway. And then the music erupts: a shattering explosion of hyper percussion, thunder and a melody that seems to have been thrusted from the bubbling influence of Asian woodwinds. The pure fury of the drums sets the stage for the designer set. It’s loud, yet concise, pounding, yet razor sharp. I like it.
I have a serious question that needs a tongue in cheek answer: What makes a great business student? It’s really not as asinine as it sounds. Lately, I’m beginning to think that the market for business students is sorely lacking in clarity and ripe for exploitation, if we ever begin to think deeper than just grades and internships. On some level, this is article is inspired by the half measures business takes to define itself, because if the sciences are precision and humanities are expression, business is a premature gestation of both. We don’t derive Slutsky’s equation or breathe Shakespeare.
I’ve stopped in my tracks now, and I’m looking back at the Arts Quad. It’s a typical Monday afternoon during dry December, and the streams of people flooding into the center of the school has gotten me doing mathematical gymnastics in my head. “How many people did you say were at Cornell?”
He pauses for a second. “21,000, I think, if you count grads and professors.”
I cock back my head in surprise: no seriously? But he was right.
About a year ago, a story ran by the Daily Mirror caught my interest. It talked about a “Dark Web”, a sort of black market on the internet that was relatively difficult to access but provided a venue for illegal activity to thrive. This article illustrated in particular how two British computer sleuths uncovered a Dark Web website that scammed people into paying money for hitmen to assassinate the person of their choice. It sounds ridiculous – like the plot of a movie Liam Neeson would be interested in – but it was true. And perhaps more stunning, it worked: By the time they were caught, the two men had raised over 50,000 pounds in a year, without actually carrying out the work.
Roombas are adorable. They look like rounded pieces of To-Ak chocolate, and cost about the same. My parents managed to pick one up before the holidays, and it whirs around during the day, dusting off the micro-pests that clutter the household. My dad seems genuinely amazed. “Look at this,” he says giddily.